Monthly Archives: May 2013

Week 21 – Unschooling vs Radical Unschooling

Week 21 – Unschooling vs Radical Unschooling

“If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.”John Irving shared by @wheremegclaire

I am grateful every second for my life as it is today.


In line with the human body theme we decided to have some fun with DNA inviting our home school friends around. Jolene Van Niekerk posted this link in the Creative Unschooling Group, a month ago, and I’ve been saving it for the perfect time. This came on the back of looking through body books at a coffee shop and our visit to Bodyworks at Scibono. We extracted kiwi DNA, we watched You Tube lessons on DNA and we made a DNA sweet model – yum! Much fun was to be had all around. Even at 46 I learn stuff! I learnt where DNA can be found – in the nucleus of the cell. I learnt that a gene is a segment of DNA. I learnt that DNA is really just a stringy substance made up of only 4 proteins ATGC, A pairs only with T and G pairs only with C in various combinations defining looks and characteristics.My sweety DNA DNA is the blueprint of the living organism and forms the bases of life. DNA is a double helix that unzips copies itself and multiplies as cells die out. The DNA twists to the right never to the left. I still haven’t managed to work out where chromosomes fit into DNA but I found out that a human has a total of 46 chromosomes of which 23 was from the mother and 23 from the father. If anyone can explain this very simply to me I would be eternally grateful. Here are some useful links:

How to explain DNA to a six year old

James Watson reveals the Helix story was almost never told

DNA twist to the right is not to be meddled with

Upright walking Chimpanzee could it me a Humanzee?

What is DNA – Video?

What are genes – Video?

With all the information available on the internet, in libraries and on forums we can learn almost anything we choose to set our minds to. I think this is one of the reasons why I find curriculums so limiting. I love nothing better than to lose myself down my very own rabbit hole of investigation, normally initiated by a single article on the subject. I then follow links, search on google, scour my book case and ask questions of people in the know. This exploration can take anything from 30 mins to months or even years of investigation before I’m sated. Young persons are the same as adults so why is it deemed acceptable to impose learning material upon them? Most adults would not stand for this and neither should children.

JJ’s music teacher suggested we take her to the Last Night of the Proms, in Johannesburg. We decided to make it into a family event. There was much muttering from the 14 year old as we made our way to the auditorium. This is where we deviate from radical unschoolers. There are some instances where we consciously impose an experience. It normally takes the form of a trip and always occupies a short time frame, no more than a few hours. Remember I don’t agree with enforced curriculum – says me wryly! Normally the activities we select are those which JJ and AA have demonstrated an interest in learning more. However AA was making is quite clear that he had no interest in listening to an orchestra and choir for 2 hours. I asked AA to please give us these few hours. The difference is that I would not ask him to give me a year of his time, instead I was requesting two hours. In the past he had reluctantly experienced a ballet, and hated it; an opera, and hated it. I now asked him to experience a concert and at least then he would then be in a position to have an opinion about an orchestra, whatever form it took, whether positive or negative.

The Last Night of the Proms was a riot of colour. As its intention, it was a party with the audience hanging onto suspended helium balloons and the choir dressed in every colour in the South African flag. In addition, to what was expected from a concert like this, we received a history lesson on Verdi, took part in a Mexican wave and raced our balloons. The music was delightful and the conductor Richard Cock was riveting, the choir was spectacular and the soloists enchanting. We all left with a spring in our step – notwithstanding the initially reluctant AA. Surprisingly everyone of us agreed that we would love to attend next year’s performance.

There is value in experiencing the new, even if reluctantly, as long as the intention is for the good of the young person and it doesn’t mean they have to give up much of their time to make a decision whether it is to their taste or not. Forthwith AA can discriminate between this kind of concert, a ballet or an opera. On the back of this positive experience, I negotiated with the younger members of the family that I get to listen to classic radio, in car, for one week. In return they get to choose a station of their choice for the alternate week. Thanks to Last Night of the Proms classical music is to become part of our lives.

Whilst watching some arbitrary recorded series with the family on TV, I’ve been making some headway with JJ’s blanket which I’m crocheting. I hope to finish it this week, in perfect time for winter.

Jana left us to return to Zimbabwe. JJ and I joined her on the Gautrain to see her off at the airport. As I’ve written before this train is world class. It was JJ’s first time on the train. She loved it. It was sad to see Jan off we had all had a lovely time together. We are grateful that we are seeing her, for her 70th birthday party, and Bob in a few months time so the gap between visits won’t be so long this time around.

We are on the final stretch for reading Harry Potter. This week you will have found me reading aloud to JJ in coffee shops, on the Gautrain and cuddled up in bed. Sharing this journey will stay with us for life.

JJ attended the Monsanto Demo in Johannesburg alongside demos all around the world. I unfortunately could not attend. She made her own banner/sign and sang anti Monsanto songs alongside other demonstrators. On the eve of Monsanto demos around the world I found this article an informative read where Doctors warn to avoid genetically modified food . In preparation for the demo I suggested to JJ to look online for demonstration poster ideas. Moreover we explored the meaning of gm food and what exactly patenting products entail.

I’m not convinced JJ is playing tennis for the right reasons particularly after this conversation about Tennis at the school. “I don’t like the matches” says JJ “isn’t that the whole point of tennis?” says Me. She insists that she likes the very expensive private lessons and does not want to stop.

Here are some enlightening links this week ….

From @NothingBTBook  John Holt on motivation  

Reading about Aquaphonics a very interesting form of gardening and raising fish symbiotically - thanks @odettejenn

A Guardian article: ‘Horrible Histories is back and it’s as brilliant as ever’. Got to get this series for JJ.

I just love Zentangles, taking doodling to another dimension, and here is a fabulous You Tube clip that demonstrates exactly how to do it. Easy!

I watched this inspiring educationalist Peter Gray interview on the back of the Peter Gray reading that I did a few weeks ago

Finally another cool education video thanks Courtney Ward


I have been playing loads of sumdog. Last night I had 645 coins to get to become my next animal (the okapi), then it had been half an hour and I had got to become the okapi.  It was so exiting so I went and got some clothes on sumdog with my coins. I look really good I am still sooo proud of myself he, he. Now I need to work hard to get to the blue whale then the clouded leopard then the Sumatran orangutang then the yellow- crested cockatoo then the cotton top-tamarin……….. There is even more than that, it is so cool I wonder what happens when one finishes he he.Hay Bale House being built

I went to ballet it was cool we learned a bit more of the dance it is hard, but me and five other girls were the best and we had to do it in front of the whole class it was cool.

I worked on my hay bale house I am now building the wall out of hay bales it looks bad but it will turn out beautiful he he.

Mom read loads of the last Harry Potter to me, it is getting even more interesting than what I wrote in the last blog. Harry, Ron and Hermione have now started their journey to find the horcrucses.

Who has watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? Well if you have you can read this paragraph if you haven’t been watched it don’t read this paragraph ok? In the movie in the Chamber Tom Riddle (the memories), he swapped the letters around from ‘Tom Marvolo Riddle’ to ‘I am Lord Voldemort’ you know, well I did the same – it was fun.

JJ and friends at Monsanto DemoI wrote lots of my book this week while my family was watching some tv series. My character has got some amazing powers. I loved writing it.

I went to a protest against Monsanto we made posters and waved them in the air and we shouted ‘no-no Monsanto’ and ‘hey Monsanto leave those seeds alone’ you know the song Hey teachers leave those kids alone it comes from that song.

I sewed on my own badges on for brownies.

I did my music lesson and I learnt piano it was fun.

I read lots of my book Percy Jackson and the Lightening thief.

Mom did a lesson on DNA. We extracted DNA from a kiwi fruit and we made a model of DNA it was fun. W also watched a video on DNA. I now know lots about DNA.

We went to see the Last Night of the Proms on our makeup mothers day because we didn’t have much of one a few weeks ago. Anyway it was so so so so so so so so so so so so so so fun we chucked streamers into the crowd it was the best. It was in Johannesburg not London.

Week21 Cloud Tagxedo